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Chillblast Fusion Projection 3 review - a super-powered Windows 10 workstation

James Archer
21 May 2016
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,367
inc VAT

Fast, quiet and superbly equipped, this is an outstanding choice for anyone doing design and editing work

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core Intel Core-i5 6600K, RAM: 16GB DDR4, Front USB ports: 2x USB2, 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 2x USB2, 1x USB3, 1xUSB3.1, 1x USB Type-C, Total storage: 256GB SSD, 1TB hard disk, Display: None, Operating system: Windows 10 Home

Buy the Fusion Projection 3 now from Chillblast

Unlike most of the (usually gaming-focused) PCs that grace Expert Reviews, Chillblast’s Fusion Projection 3 is machine for getting serious work done – particularly of the computer-aided design (CAD) variety. As such, it’s brimming with all the hardware a professional 3D designer might need.

Chief among these is the 4GB Nvidia Quadro K2200 graphics card, which, unlike the more popular GeForce line, is optimised specifically for things like 3D modelling and graphic design. There’s also a quad-core Intel Core i5-6600K – which normally runs at 3.5GHz, but here is overclockable to a monstrous 4.4GHz – plus 16GB of decently quick 2133MHz RAM and even a versatile optical card reader. This supports almost every card type imaginable, from SD and microSD to CompactFlash and Sony’s M2.

On the workstation’s rear, there are enough display outputs to cope with all but the most ludicrous of multi-monitor setups. I counted one HDMI, one dual-link DVI-D and one VGA on the motherboard panel, plus one dual-link DVI-I and two DisplayPorts on the graphics card; a very good mix. The same goes for the rest of the connectivity options, as the Fusion Projection 3 has a grand total of five USB2 ports, three USB3 ports, one USB3.1 and one USB Type-C socket apiece, five audio inputs, an Ethernet port and two good old-fashioned PS/2 connectors for anyone still attached to their vintage keyboard.

Efficiency of dreams

Of course, all these places to plug in peripherals won’t mean much if the Fusion Projection 3 fails to hold up as a high-performance workstation. Fortunately, it achieved some very respectable – and remarkably consistent – scores in our benchmark tests: 139 for image editing, 135 for video editing, 135 for multitasking and 135 overall. The M.2-mounted Samsung SM951 SDD (a 256GB variant, my review unit’s sole upgrade on the most basic configuration, which includes a 128GB drive) also did well in the AS SSD test, where it managed an extremely high overall score of 1,512.

As a matter of course, I also ran our usual gaming benchmarks, where the Fusion Projection 3’s CAD focus became extremely apparent; despite its high scores in our Windows benchmarks, it could only squeeze out 42fps in Dirt Showdown (on Ultra settings and at 1,920x1,080p), as well as just 16fps in Metro: Last Light Redux (at Very High settings and the same resolution). This wasn’t much of a surprise, as Nvidia’s Quadro cards aren’t nearly as well-optimised for games as the GeForce series.

When running the software it was actually designed for, on the other hand, the Fusion Projection 3 feels excellent. Blender runs like a dream, and I could happily tinker away with 3D models without so much as a hint of slowdown. I was particularly impressed with how much responsiveness was maintained when viewing models in Blender’s Rendered view – on lesser systems, this tends to slow the application to a crawl.

Gear up

If such effective fulfilment of its core purpose wasn’t enough, the Fusion Projection 3 is also one of the best-equipped mid-tower PCs I’ve seen recently. Besides that optical card reader, the hinged front panel also hides a DVD R/W drive, something which never seems essential until you inevitably find yourself needing one, and four of the aforementioned USB ports (two USB2 and two USB3) are located at the very front of the case for easy access.

Inside, there’s plenty of scope for future upgrades. A massive rack provides seven spare 3.5in drive bays, in addition to the one already occupied by the a 1TB hard disk, and a further two bays for 2.5in can be accessed behind the right side panel. On the motherboard, there’s one free PCEe x16 slot (the other is taken by the GPU), two empty PCIe x1 slots and two legacy PCI slots. While it lacks things like fancy cable management systems and partitions, the case is nicely tidy and open; installing something like a discrete sound card won’t be an issue in the slightest.

The case has also been fitted with sound-insulating foam linings, making it wonderfully quiet even under load; I wasn't sure about how the basic air cooler on the CPU would cope with demanding modelling work, but the whole system manages to stay near-silent even under load. The caveat is that you’ll need to make sure the side panel thumbscrews are nice and tight, as the spinning of the case fans can case the inside of the case to vibrate slightly, which produces a faint whine if one of the panels is loose.

When the most annoying thing about a PC is an easily-fixable noise issue, though, you know you’re on to a winner – especially when it comes with an exceptional five-year warranty. The Fusion Projection 3 is a powerful, robust and competitively-priced desktop for professional use, and a deserving recipient of a Best Buy award.

Buy the Fusion Projection 3 now from Chillblast

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core Intel Core-i5 6600K
Processor socketLGA1151
RAM16GB
Memory typeDDR4
Maximum memoryN/A
MotherboardAsus Z170-K
Motherboard chipsetZ170
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB2, 2x USB3
Rear USB ports2x USB2, 1x USB3, 1xUSB3.1, 1x USB Type-C
Other ports2x PS/2
NetworkingEthernet
Case typeATX
Case dimensions HxWxD521x232x451mm
PCI (free)2 (2)
PCIe x1 (free)2 (2)
PCIe x16 (free)2 (1)
Serial ATA (free)4 (2)
Memory slots (free)4 (2)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)2 (1)
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)8 (7)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)2 (0)
Storage
Total storage256GB SSD, 1TB hard disk
Memory card readerSD, microSD, SDHC, SDXC, CompactFlash, M2
Optical drive typeDVD R/W, mutli-card reader
Graphics
Graphics card4GB NVIDIA Quadro K2200
Graphics/video ports1x HDMI, 1x dual-link DVI-D, 1x dual-link DVI-I, 1x VGA, 2x DisplayPort
Sound
Sound cardOnboard
Sound card outputsLine out, headphone out
SpeakersN/A
Display
DisplayNone
Native resolutionN/A
InputsN/A
Other hardware
KeyboardN/A
MouseN/A
ExtrasN/A
Software
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionWindows 10 restore
Buying information
WarrantyFive years RTB including two years collect and return
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£1,367
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)N/A
SupplierChillblast
Detailswww.chillblast.com
Part CodeFusion Projection 3